A la Cart: The Secret Lives of Grocery Shoppers

  Media Alasmallest   Media New Darcy

My friend, Hillary Carlip, likes to collect other people's discarded shopping lists. She likes them so much she created an art project based on the lists. She has a new book out called A la Cart: The Secret Lives of Grocery Shoppers, in which she imagines the identity of the shopper and assumes their identity and creates a story about them.

Taking her clues from the items listed, the types of paper written on, the handwriting, and even misspellings ("Aunt Spray"), Hillary saw that each list — at once mundane and personal — offered an intimate peek into a complete stranger's life. She picked twenty-six lists and imagined who the shoppers might be. She next transformed herself into all twenty-six people, one by one, literally stepping into each character — all ages, genders, and ethnicities — with hair, make-up, outfits, and one Fu Manchu. Photographer Barbara Green then captured unforgettable images of Hillary portraying these shoppers at their neighborhood markets.

Hillary came to love these characters, so her accompanying stories for each are as poignant and hilarious as the photographs. She brings to life richly imagined inner worlds, including one for macho Woody, a self-described "Lady's Man with NO BANKRUPTCIES ready to meet just one Special Lady with NO KIDS."